Even though I’m definitely super happy here, there are a few home comforts I’m missing after 2 months here! In no particular order (and obviously excluding friends and family – it goes without saying that I miss them):
1) Carpets! Apartments and houses here typically have tile, and it gets dirty much faster than carpet, so I have to wear shoes inside. I’m also constantly sweeping my room out. I think rug shopping may be in my future!
2) Food. I’m still struggling a little bit to feed myself things that are good for you, taste good, and are cheap – I didn’t learn much about cooking eating at the dining hall all four years of college. I’m adapting to the slightly different foods they have in the supermarket and not having a Trader Joe’s. But this is a good opportunity for me to learn a bit more about Spanish cooking…once I work up the courage.
3) Already having paperwork in order from just living in a place. It’s super frustrating to do all the paperwork that’s required to live here properly. For instance, to get access to health care here, I have to get three OTHER pieces of documentation first, which all have separate offices. And of course, every time I go, I’m missing some key piece of paper or have something wrong. Aaaagh!
4) Not knowing where to buy things. Stores are different here, as lots of times there are specific small stores to buy specific things, rather than big department stores that sell everything. And sometimes it’s hard to find what I want online. Also everything is shut is August, making it more of an uphill battle!
5) Speaking the language perfectly. Although I speak pretty good Spanish now, there are definitely occasions where I struggle, which can be extremely frustrating. And here in Barcelona, they speak Catalan as well. It’s similar enough to Spanish that I can understand a lot of it, but I still don’t speak much.
6) Being from a really far-away place. This hit me when people talk about going home for the weekend, or have friends from home visiting. Both of this things won’t happen for me as California is so far away! But it has its upside as well – I convinced the kids at the school I work at that Mickey Mouse was my neighbor. (This made me very cool for about five minutes before they realized otherwise.)
Luckily, all of these things are already getting easier and will continue to get easier with time. I’d imagine that it’s pretty similar for anybody I know living in a foreign country. It just happened to hit me right now as lots of people I know are going home right now, some for holidays and some indefinitely. But, when I was in Sevilla, I never wrote anything about what made me sad, even though I was sad nearly all the time. Looking back at what I wrote then, it’s very obviously only one side. This time around, I want to document more of the whole experience of living abroad. I’m having loads of fun, but it has its challenges too. But don’t worry – I am very very happy here on the whole!